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  • Writer's pictureNAH Admin-Coordinator

Leptospirosis in Pets

Here in Florida, the rainy season has been unleashed upon us! With daily rain showers and the occasional weekend-long storm comes a lot of standing water and flooding - which can house several deadly diseases for our pets. One of the most dangerous of these diseases is Leptospirosis.

Leptospirosis, or “Lepto”, is a zoonotic bacterial infection, meaning it can be transmitted to humans from our animal companions. In humans, Leptospirosis causes flu-like symptoms such as high fever, head & muscle aches, vomiting, and abdominal pain (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention). In cats, Leptospirosis is quite rare and very mild if contracted. However in dogs, this disease can range from a treatable, mild infection all the way up to organ failure and death. Some common symptoms of Leptospirosis in dogs are:

  • Fever

  • Muscle tenderness

  • Increased thirst

  • Vomiting & diarrhea

  • Loss of appetite

  • Changes of frequency in urination

  • Labored breathing

So how does Leptospirosis spread? The Leptospira bacteria spreads through the urine of infected mammals and thrives in wet conditions such as standing water and warm, wet soil. It can survive in these conditions for several weeks or months, making it a common disease in all areas of our native Florida. Additionally, Leptospirosis can be spread through exposure to an infected rodent, wild animal, or farm animal, as well as that animal’s food or bedding. If you are wondering if your dog may be at risk of Leptospirosis, as yourself the following questions:

  1. Does my dog have access to wetland areas or sources of slow-moving or stagnant water?

  2. Does my dog roam areas where wildlife such as deer, raccoons, opossums, skunks, or other animals may be present?

  3. Does my dog live in an urban area where they have to walk through puddles or areas of pooling water after it rains?

  4. Does my dog live in an area that experiences heavy rainfall or frequent flooding?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is definitely time to think about how to protect your pup from Leptospirosis. Luckily, there are many ways to do this! First, make sure your dog is vaccinated for Lepto. Here at Newberry Animal Hospital, we consider the Leptospirosis vaccine to be just as important as your dog’s core Rabies and DHP/P vaccines! As long as your dog remains up to date on their vaccine, they have a greater chance of staying protected even if they come in contact with the Leptospira bacteria. However, even if your dog is vaccinated, you will still want to prevent your pup from frequenting areas with standing water or large populations of wild animals and/or rodents. Make sure you are draining water out of your yard when it rains and keep on top of extermination when rodents sneak into your humble abode!

By utilizing these preventative measures, you & your dog can stay safe from Leptospirosis even during the rainy Florida summer. For questions about Leptospirosis in humans, please contact your physician. For questions about Leptospirosis in dogs, visit the AVMA Leptospirosis Page or give us a call at any of our locations:

39th Ave: (352) 332-2292

Newberry: (352) 472-7035

Main Street: (352) 372-5391

Springhill: (352) 373-7208

Holistic: (352) 332-9991


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